Crayfish and Avocado salad with chilled Gazpacho

So, fancy towers of food in the middle of a plate is not really my thing, but James Martin made a fantastic looking Chilled melon soup with langoustines and mint on BBC’s Saturday Kitchen this week. I must say I was inspired. Today it was 36 degrees, and I am really, really hot. A cold soup could really hit the spot.

Now on the way to the local supermarket, I had ‘cold soup with sea food’ in mind, but not remembering what James had made on Saturday I bought the following:

Supplementing this with some olive oil, sour cream, salt and pepper, fresh basil, chives, a chili, a lime, and the stainless steel ring I bought on the market, I came up with one of the best starters that have been served from my kitchen.

1 packet of pre-made Gazpacho soup
1 ripe avocado
1 packet of cooked and peeled crayfish tails
1 long red pepper

I grilled the pepper until it was soft, and slightly blackened on the skin side and cut out two circles of its red flesh. Mixing half an avocado with some fresh basil, seasoning, chives, olive oil, chives, some lime juice, and a piece of chili produced a zesty guacamole type sauce/mush.

Grilled Red Mullet with Basil and Pernod

There is something about small grilled whole fish that just conjures up memories of Mediterranean holidays. It is those moments that have inspired my cooking. If I could eat seafood, with a warm Greek sea breeze brushing my sun kissed cheeks every night, I would be a truly happy man.

Saturday morning at the Albert Cuypstraat market in Amsterdam, is a fish lovers dream. This morning I found some lovely red mullet.

To marinate the mullet, cut to slice in each side, and sprinkle generously with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, shredded basil leaves, and a dribble of Pernod. Cover and leave for an hour or 2.

Grill on a medium heat for about 3 minutes each side.

Pan fried sea bass on a bed of spicy steamed fennel

Something light for dinner after England’s 1-0 win over Ecuador. A fresh light sea fish with a delicate vegetable, steamed over a broth of sweet vermouth.

Not sure how to approach this idea, I decided to pan fry the bass in olive oil to give it a crispy skin and serve it on the steamed fennel instead of steaming it all together. An idea spawned from the Great British Menu was to cook the fish skin side down until the top side started to turn opaque, and then remove it from the heat to rest. This worked really well, one of the nicest pieces of home cooked Bass I have tasted.

Pan fried sea bass on a bed of spicy steamed fennel – Photo: Chris Summers

Removing the seeds from a red chili and finely slicing its flesh added a needed splash of color, and a fresh bite to the steamed fennel. Adding sweet vermouth to the broth also sweetened the fennel adding to its aromatic flavor.

I tried making a lemon sauce for this dish, but it really didn’t go, so it was left out. Something like a sweet chili sauce would be much better, but it was fresh and tasty with just a drizzle of sesame oil.